We’re of two minds about EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s decision to delay imposition of curbs on carbon emissions, based on the EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act. On the one hand, the reality that the EPA (in consultation with the White House, we presume) has backed down makes one wonder whether President Obama has the stomach to use this legal leverage to pressure Congress to get on with the job it should have done years ago.
On the other, we’re relieved that the EPA is not about to embark on what would likely be an inefficient and thus needlessly expensive approach to curbing emissions. The Clean Air Act does not, for example, give the agency the authority to create a market-friendly cap-and-trade system for reaching its emissions goals.
The best hope, then, is that the White House is saving its powder for a better time – a day when recovery from the recession is in plain sight and the idea of asking Americans to sacrifice on behalf of their grandchildren regains some political traction.